Highlights of progress through November 2010
Click here to view a video about the Marin Carbon Project.
Strategy 1: Carbon Sequestration
- Under grants made under MCF’s climate change initiative, research is being conducted in West Marin on 30 acres of rangeland by the Marin Carbon Project (MCP) and its partner UC Berkley to explore the potential for sequestration of carbon in rangeland soils. The results are so encouraging that based on the low-end of the potential range of carbon sequestered in soil (10 metric tons of carbon per hectare of rangeland per year), applying these techniques to 25% of rangelands used for grazing in California would remove 211 million metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year. To put this in perspective, all transportation-related activities in California emit 188 million metric tons of carbon per year. This research was accomplished in two years, whereas the scientists had initially predicted it would take up to three years to have such conclusive results.
- Even at this early stage of research, this effort is just beginning to transition to planning ways to implement this approach to carbon reduction in other regions of the United States, Central America, Asia, and Europe. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC and the World Bank have made soil carbon sequestration one of the primary recommendations for addressing climate change in the near-term.
- MCP has developed partnerships to share the research methodology and results at the internationally, (e.g., the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture), nationally (e.g., Natural Resources Conservation Service/USDA and PRBO), and regionally (e.g., Bay Area Open Space Council).
- Early results of MCP’s research strongly suggest that there are economic benefits for ranchers who adopt the soil management techniques necessary for soil carbon sequestration. These benefits would more than offset the additional expense ranchers would incur to implement these techniques. These benefits include increased water-holding capacity of soils (which translates to less erosion, improved water quality in local water bodies, and enhanced ability for plants to tolerate drought during long periods of intense heat; improved soil stability and mineral content; and vastly improved productivity and nutrient value of rangelands grasses and forbs (which translates into healthier and heavier livestock).
Strategy 2: Water and Energy Efficiency
- The Foundation’s support of energy efficiency and solar projects in Marin has resulted in reducing CO2 emissions by 7,534 tons These projects include energy upgrades on 173 homes and buildings in Marin County.
- Under an effort to influence public policies related to energy use, the Marin Climate and Energy Partnership successfully developed a model green building ordinance, now adopted by San Rafael, Novato, San Anselmo, and the County of Marin, and certified by the California Energy Commission. This effort has developed a generic ordinance covering “green” retrofit policies that can be tailored for use in local communities in Marin.
- The Dixie School District has completed solar installation at one of its four schools. This will result in a potential reduction of energy use in these building by 60%.
- In the first year of their grants, the three Curb Your Carbon agencies—Cool the Earth, SEI, and Northbay Conservation Corps—reported 7514 tons of CO2e were reduced through energy saving behaviors. 14,655 students participated from 34 schools, and 7,239 households have taken 14,431 actions, such as installing energy-efficient lighting and increasing recycling efforts.
- EAH, one of the county’s major nonprofit affordable housing developers, recently launched a large-scale energy efficiency and retrofit pilot project in the affordable housing sector with MCF support. Through rigorous pre-planning and technical assessment, EAH concluded that they would finance their project through a loan that would be repaid from documented and significant energy savings in their 700 units undergoing retrofit. EAH is now committed to applying this model to other properties they manage throughout California and Hawaii.
Strategy 3: Transportation and Land Use
- 981 students are participating in Safe Routes to School’s program targeting middle and high school students, resulting in a reduction of CO2 emissions of 264 tons. This is a new program; until this grant, the focus was on elementary students.
- MCF is working with Bay Area Climate Funders, state and regional agencies, and the Strategic Growth Council to initiate the California Climate Data Integration Project (CCDIP) in the Bay Area, which would create a common protocol and shared reporting platform to assess climate mitigation strategies across California. We expect Marin County to be the first partner to work with CCDIP to develop a set of protocols and shared platform in the region.